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Andrew Brown (writer)

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Andrew Brown
Born1955 (age 68–69)
London, England
  • Writer
  • journalist
  • editor
  • broadcaster
Notable worksFishing in Utopia
Notable awardsOrwell Prize

Andrew Brown (born 1955 in London) is an English journalist, writer, and editor.[1] He was one of the founding staff members of The Independent, where he worked as a religious correspondent, parliamentary sketch writer, and a feature writer. [2] He has written extensively on technology for Prospect and the New Statesman and been a feature writer on The Guardian.[3] He has worked as the editor for the Belief section of The Guardian's Comment is Free, which won a Webby under his leadership,[4] and is currently a leader writer and member of the paper's editorial board. He is also the press columnist of the Church Times.[5] In The Beginning was the Worm (2004) was shortlisted for the Aventis Prize. Fishing in Utopia (2008) won the Orwell Prize and was nominated for the Dolman Best Travel Book Award in 2009.

Brown is the son of Bletchley Park codebreaker Patricia Bartley.[6]


Christianity and non-believers[edit]

Brown has described himself as someone for whom "Christianity is only true backwards."[7] He has written that he is "constantly astonished by the way in which the Church of England contains such a large number of clever, learned and dedicated people giving their lives to an institution that is none of those things." He has also concluded, "But I still can't do it myself. So why worry? Why not see it all as nonsense? Because really it isn't all nonsense. As a friend of mine, a former missionary, said once: 'It's about the thing that is true even if Christianity isn't true. Christian language does things that no other use of language can. I can conclude only that God has called me to be an atheist.'"[7][8]

Brown has criticised Richard Dawkins for what he calls the cult of personality that has grown around him and his positions.[9] He is also sceptical of the scientific concept of memes, as developed by Dawkins.[10][11]

The Guardian editorial on David Cameron[edit]

In September 2019, Private Eye magazine named Brown as the author of an editorial in The Guardian newspaper about former British prime minister David Cameron. This touched on the death of Cameron's six-year-old son. Brown claimed the PM only ever felt "privileged pain". The article provoked outrage across the political spectrum, and the paper later said the piece "fell far short of our standards. It has now been amended, and we apologise completely."


Brown has been a fierce critic of the Sam Harris' position on torture. He has attacked Harris for what he has described as Harris' advocacy of torture in situations where we are willing to accept collateral damage (i.e., from bombing, etc.), as it relates to fighting the war on terror.[12]

English Wikipedia[edit]

Brown fears English Wikipedia has outcompeted rival encyclopedias and problems that lead to criticism of Wikipedia will continue. Brown fears "charlatans and liars" have the most to gain from editing Wikipedia, and potential idealistic contributors are discouraged, due to difficulties editing the site, especially through smartphones.[13]


Awards and nominations[edit]


  1. ^ "Sweden's magic, its women - and its fish". The Spectator. Retrieved 27 April 2013.
  2. ^ "Third Annual Templeton-Cambridge Fellowships" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-04-10. Retrieved 2016-02-08.
  3. ^ "Third Annual Temoleton–Cambridge Fellowships" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2009-12-11. Retrieved 2016-02-08.
  4. ^ "Religion & Spirituality".
  5. ^ Rausing, Sigrid (June 29, 2009). "The death of a dream". New Statesman.
  6. ^ "At 96, my mother is one of the last surviving Bletchley Park codebreakers | Andrew Brown". TheGuardian.com. 28 March 2014.
  7. ^ a b "Help thou mine unbelief".
  8. ^ Brown, Andrew (1 April 2013). "How do churches get new bums on seats? Get rid of the boring old ones". The Guardian.
  9. ^ "The bizarre – and costly – cult of Richard Dawkins". 16 August 2014.
  10. ^ Brown, Andrew (8 July 2009). "Serious objections to memes". The Guardian.
  11. ^ Gabora, L.; Brown, A. (1 January 1999). "Susan Blackmore, The Meme Machine". Journal of Consciousness Studies. 6 (5): 77–85 – via PhilPapers.
  12. ^ Brown, Andrew (8 August 2009). "Sam Harris, torture, quotation". The Guardian.
  13. ^ Brown, Andrew (25 June 2015). "Wikipedia editors are a dying breed. The reason? Mobile". The Guardian.
  14. ^ "A Policeman's Lot". Evening Times. Feb 12, 1988. Retrieved 27 April 2013.
  15. ^ "Rediscovering the gene genius". Sunday Herald. Apr 4, 1999. Retrieved 27 April 2013.
  16. ^ "In the Beginning Was the Worm by Andrew Brown". New Scientist. 22 February 2003. Retrieved 27 April 2013.
  17. ^ Edgar, Lois (2006). "In the Beginning Was the Worm: Finding the Secrets of Life in a Tiny Hermaphrodite (Book-Review)". The Quarterly Review of Biology. 81: 49–50. doi:10.1086/503924.
  18. ^ "Fishing in Utopia by Andrew Brown". London Evening Standard. Retrieved 27 April 2013.
  19. ^ "Fishing in Utopia, By Andrew Brown - Reviews, Books". The Independent. Jul 27, 2008.
  20. ^ Oscarson, Christopher (Spring 2010). "Andrew Brown. Fishing in Utopia: Sweden and the Future that Disappeared.(Book review)". Scandinavian Studies. 82 (1): 99. doi:10.2307/40920897. JSTOR 40920897. S2CID 254481073.
  21. ^ Bloomsbury.com. "That Was The Church That Was".
  22. ^ "Journalist receives first European Religion award". Christian Science Monitor. October 2, 1995. Archived from the original on March 3, 2016. Retrieved 27 April 2013.
  23. ^ "Record entries for science prize". BBC. 10 May 2004. Retrieved 27 April 2013.
  24. ^ "Debut book wins Dolman Travel Book award". Telegraph. Retrieved 27 April 2013.
  25. ^ "Orwell Prize 2009". Granta. Archived from the original on 2013-05-22. Retrieved 27 April 2013.
  26. ^ "Sverigeskildring fick Orwellpris". Svenska Dagbladet. Retrieved 27 April 2013.